"Always together" describes Claudio D. and Dina Noemi Zivic, who, from the time they were the babies in their mothers' arms, grew up together in the same tiny branch in Argentina.
"When people ask us when we met, we tell them we met in the pre-existence," said Sister Zivic.
"Always together" also describes this couple's connection to the Church, which grew from infancy to maturity with them.
Their children "were surprised but not surprised" when Elder Zivic was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy March 31 in general conference, said Sister Zivic. "They know their father. He is like Nephi; he has always had integrity and is very hard working. In every calling, he has always said, 'I will go and do.' We have received many blessings in our family because of his attitude."
Elder Zivic described his wife as very dedicated. "I work in the Church," she said, "but my role is as a mother, and I enjoy it very much."
Their children were also pleased because another General Authority has been called from Argentina, the first in nearly 20 years.
Before his calling, Elder Zivic served as Area Seventy, Regional Representative, mission president, stake president's counselor twice, high councilor and bishop.
"When I was released as a Regional Representative, I was among those called in to be interviewed about the new stake presidency," he recalled. "But Elder John B. Dixon, a month or two after he had interviewed me, said, 'I wanted to call you as president of the stake, but the Lord said no, that you are going to be called as an Area Authority.' It was so. I served in the area presidency and, after a year, we were called to Spain Bilbao Mission. So I have never been stake president, but a counselor twice."
The Zivics said their mission in Spain was a very spiritual experience. "In general, missionary work is very difficult in Spain, but our missionaries were blessed with baptisms. They could feel the Spirit very strongly because they were worthy. The great love of all the members helped us to grow," he said.
Eight months ago, when their mission ended, they returned to an Argentina that was recovering from many economic problems of the past few years. Several years ago, the Argentine dollar lost two-thirds of its value almost overnight. It was a difficult time for all the people. The Church helped the members learn again the basic principles of welfare and to trust in the Lord during those difficult years.
"While many people were without work, he actually increased work," said Sister Zivic.
"To us it is a testimony of tithing," he said. "But we did lose a lot of money."
Upon their return, they found an economy greatly improved, as illustrated by people building bigger homes and taking vacations again.
"Inflation is now less than 10 percent, and that is very good in Argentina," he said.
"We're happy because it is our country, and we love it," said Sister Zivic.
The Zivics have deep roots in Argentina. Elder Zivic's grandmother, a Polish Jew, went to Argentina after World War I, her German husband a former soldier. Elder Zivic's mother, who was born in Argentina, joined the Church when she was 14, along with her mother.
Sister Zivic's mother's family of Italian ancestry, joined the Church when her mother was 17. Her father's family, of Spanish ancestry, joined the Church when he was very young, and her father, Jose Alvarez, became one of the first four native Argentine missionaries, Jose Alvarez, and in his later years served as a stake patriarch.
Having a similar upbringing gives the Zivics common memories. One of the earliest of these was when they were 5 or 6 years old. Sister Zivic remembers a pretty dress she wore for the visit of President David O. McKay.
"It was a very special occasion," said Elder Zivic.
Each was baptized in the old Liniers meetinghouse, one of the first built by the Church in South America, and the only one with a baptismal font.
"Everyone in the Church was baptized there," said Sister Zivic, explaining that for baptismal services, they opened the stage to access the font.
At age 9 she left the branch with her family to live in the the United States for three years. When she was 12, her father was called as a construction missionary to Chile. They spent three years in Chile building meetinghouses. When they returned to Argentina, they coincidently returned to the same ward where the Zivic family was living. "Only now," she said, "we weren't children anymore." They soon began dating.
The first stake in Buenos Aires had been organized a year or so later and she was called as a stake Primary secretary. In their callings, they traveled all over Buenos Aires to visit the various wards.
They were married in Jan. 13, 1972, prior to the first temple being built in South America. It was only when they had three children and he was serving as a young bishop that the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple was dedicated. That same year, they traveled to Brazil and were there sealed.
"The coming of the temple was a dream come true for the Argentines," said Elder Zivic.
"We saw the difference of having leaders that went to the temple," said Sister Zivic. "You can see it and feel it. The children strive to live the gospel better, and have a goal to be married in the temple. That is very, very important — the family can be sealed for all eternity. It changed their vision."
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